Virtual Services

The second Sunday of Lent – February 28th 2021

This weeks Roots activity sheet for children is available here

Welcome

Good morning everyone and welcome to our online service today for the second Sunday of Lent.

I hope you are all well today and I hope that whatever your worries or fears this morning God would grant us some time to focus on him and that his word would speak to us this morning.

Opening prayer

Holy God, we come from our busy lives. We often forget that you walk with us.
As we gather now, help us to be more aware of who
you are.
Give us the courage to admit when we don’t
understand,
so that we might grow more like you in all we do.

Amen.

copyright © 2002-2021 ROOTS for Churches

Worship

Praise

Word

Jesus predicts his death

31 He then began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and after three days rise again. 32 He spoke plainly about this, and Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him.

33 But when Jesus turned and looked at his disciples, he rebuked Peter. ‘Get behind me, Satan!’ he said. ‘You do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.’

The way of the cross

34 Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: ‘Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 35 For whoever wants to save their life[b] will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it. 36 What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? 37 Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? 38 If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.’

Mark 8
31-38

This passage that we are looking at today from Marks Gospel is  part of a longer section in Chapter  8 where several times Jesus asks the disciples if they understand who he is.  In V14 The disciples mutter amongst themselves because they forgot to bring bread with them – Jesus reminds them that they fed the  Five thousand and the four thousand and that there was bread left over from those times and asks them why they still don’t get it?  Then after healing a blind man Jesus asked them “Who do people say that I am?”

They replied  – Some say John the Baptist, Some Say Elijah – Jesus asked again Who Do YOU SAY  I  AM? –  Peter answered for them all – You are the Messiah.  So they knew he was the one sent as the scriptures had predicted  but whether they really understood what sort of a Messiah he was is open to question.

From Peter’s protests at what Jesus says about what will, what must happen, to him according to Gods plan, we know that he struggled with the type of Messiah Jesus said he was

For people of that time the idea of a biblical messiah from God to lead your people out of Roman oppression is probably one of the only things that kept you going.  Scripture had been predicting a messiah for hundreds of years so why wouldn’t the  disciples be hoping Jesus was the kind of Messiah they expected? – after seeing some of the signs and wonders Jesus has performed they know how powerful he is  – surely this is the man to beat the Romans? 

But, there are plenty of hints in the Old Testament that Jesus wasn’t going to raise a massive army and obliterate the Romans – Isaiah 53 from 500 years before Jesus says “But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was upon him,
and by his wounds we are healed.”

Jesus is not exactly gentle with Peter – he actually calls him Satan (Suggesting that it is Satan through Peter that is speaking this way) and he shocks the disciples more by telling them that they may well be forced to physically carry their own real cross to their own crucifiction ground where they will be nailed to it just like he will be.  V34 “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me” This isn’t the nice turn of phrase we know today – this is Jesus saying that the disciples may well die a horrible death too.

So the disciples got a massive shock.  Not only was Jesus not going to sort out the Romans and restore the Jewish state it sounds like he is telling them they are going to end up like him, probably in grisly death.   That was so far from the expectations that they built up it must have been  virtually unbelieveable to them.  We know that Jesus had to tell them twice more –  in Mark 9, just after the Transfiguration, Jesus predicted his death a second time v31 He said to them, “The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men. They will kill him, and after three days he will rise.” 32 But they did not understand what he meant and were afraid to ask him about it.”

Then in Mark 10 Jesus tells the disciples again what a grim end he will come to: v 33-34  – Again he took the Twelve aside and told them what was going to happen to him. 33 “We are going up to Jerusalem,” he said, “and the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death and will hand him over to the Gentiles, 34 who will mock him and spit on him, flog him and kill him. Three days later he will rise.”

Jesus was trying to help the diciples  understand that there’s a bigger picture – its not just about what man or men wanted – its God’s plan. as it said back in Isaiah 55 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. 9 “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”  Jesus wasn’t just some weak guy giving up, he was actually following the plan that God had for him in total obedience.

And Jesus himself was pretty plain about why he had to die:   .  V31 – Jesus says “the son of man MUST suffer many things and be rejected ..that he must be killed.  Jesus doesn’t even say he will be – he says he MUST be.  Jesus is saying that his death is an integral part of his mission and God’s plan.  When Peter had a go at Jesus for suggesting such a thing Jesus is so harsh with him because Peter is oposing God’s plan.  So why did Jesus have to die?  Couldn’t he have achieved the same outcome without dying on the cross?

One answer is back in Isiaiah 55   – Remember V 5 that prophecised his death also told us why “The punishment that brought us peace was upon him and by his wounds we are healed.  V 6 goes on to say “We all like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.” 

In other words, we have all messed up, we have all rejected God and the way he wants us to be but in his mercy God has given us Jesus who took all the punishment on our behalf on the cross so that we could be forgiven.  As 2 Corinthians 5 v21 says “God made him who had no sin to be sin[b] for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God”  We are not righteous in God’s eyes but because of Jesus taking our sins away and onto himself anyone who repents and believes can be considered righteous by God.  Remember sometimes we call Jesus the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world – the sacrificial lamb, the sacrifice who takes all of our wrong doing on to himself for Us – so that he suffered instead of us.

And here in this passage the disciples have missed the main parts by being so shocked at what was to happen in the imeduiate future that they missed the bigger picture:

The promise in v35 that there is something beyond our mortal life worth fighting for –  “For whoever wants to save their life[b] will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it.”

And that Jesus will be back – V38 “when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.” 

So Jesus explains how we should change  – we must take up our cross and follow him. 

Paul in his letter to the Galatians wrote “ I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.”  Paul knew that it didn’t mean  a physical death (that would come later), it meant a spiritual death – dying to that part of us that doesn’t obey and love Christ.  As Jesus said in todays passage v34 we must “deny ourselves” ie leave that bit of us behind that isn’t in tune with what God wants.

This is not easy – . Jesus himself acknowledged that – Luke 9:23 says “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.” Ie you have to keep doing it – every day, its not a one time thing, you have to do it over and over again – you will make mistakes but start again, every day.

And if we keep doing that we will reap the rewards that Jesus talks about in v35 “For whoever wants to save their life[b] will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it.” And if we don’t we are condemned to miss out on the wonderful life that God promises for us.  As V 36 says “What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul” There is nothing in this life that can help you if you don’t follow Jesus. 

Of course we must be careful.  We musn’t think that just because of the cross we are sorted, that we need do nothing else other than celebrate the fact that Jesus died on  a cross for us.  The key is that he died on the cross so that we MIGHT be saved, not that we would.    He took all our sins so that we would have the opportunity to be reconciled with God if we want to be.  What we do with that opportunity is up to us.

In dying on the cross Jesus opened the door, and  invited us into his kingdom. In order to accept his invitation and walk through that door  we have to be prepared to take up our cross and actually DO something and keep doing it – take up our cross daily and follow him.

Witness

Prayers of Intercession

Faithful God,
as a cautious route out of lockdown is planned, may we hold on to the hope it offers but not run ahead
of the realities. We pray for the work of Covax as they ensure fair
access to vaccine,
and we ask that poverty would not create vaccine
inequality. May we find new and creative ways to reconnect
with friends, family members and our church community. May we live the story that we tell –
of your suffering love for us,
of your creative power,
and of the gospel promise of a world made new. May we be ready to play a part in the healing and
restoration
of our relationships and of your world,
and may we be ready to heal the hurt that separation
has brought.
Your promise is to all generations:
We believe that all things are possible with you.

Faithful God,
we pray that the under 5s will have opportunity to play,
that students studying for exams would not have their
futures jeopardised,
that decisions would be wise and timely,
and that classrooms will be made as safe as possible. We pray today for all teachers wearied by long hours
and changing rules,
for students who have been lonely and confused,
and for parents stressed by home schooling. We pray for the estimated 1.6 billion children worldwide
whose schooling has been disrupted by the pandemic,
and we pray especially for the education of girls across
the world.
Surround all schools with your protection,
and may we find long-term responses to the needs of
children and young people.
Your promise is to all generations:
We believe that all things are possible with you.

Faithful God,
you promise that the poor shall eat and be satisfied,
but in the UK, rates of deprivation have skyrocketed in
the pandemic –
220,000 households have fallen into destitution,
and funding to support the homeless has dried up. We pray also for starving children in the ongoing conflict
in Yemen,
and for the Yazidi people, displaced and without hope.
As we begin to think about the future, may we focus on your priorities
and be ready to work for change,
so that no one goes hungry and all find a place to live.
Your promise is to all generations:
We believe that all things are possible with you.

Faithful God,
you promise peace in our cities as a sign of your
blessing. We pray for local councils,
struggling to balance budgets and deprived of post-Covid funding. May wise decision making prevail and essential services
be preserved, may the needs of residents be prioritised,
and care be provided for those most in need. We pray that we would find creative ways of revitalising
our cities, making them safer greener and more peaceful places
for all.
Your promise is to all generations:
We believe that all things are possible with you.

Faithful God,
all the ends of the earth shall remember and turn to you.
As we look at pictures from the red surface of Mars,
we wonder again at the miracle of your creation,
and give thanks for the extent of human adventure and
achievement. May the same courage that explores space, find new
vaccines;
and that sails alone across the Atlantic, be applied to our
everyday challenges.
Give us fresh energy to face the future,
with all its seemingly intractable issues,
and may we be ready to respond to your call to follow
you,
though the pathway is challenging
and the way ahead may require sacrifices.
Your promise is to all generations:
We believe that all things are possible with you.

Faithful God,
as days lengthen and signs of spring appear,
we thank you that you have placed us in community,
and we remember today all the people who fill our lives
with hope. We remember in silence all we know who are struggling
today:
the sick and hospitalised,
those who are waiting for treatment,
and…. May your love surround them.
Soon you will call us to follow the footsteps to the Cross:
help us to make ourselves ready to respond.
Your power is seen when love is poured out
in the broken body of your Son
and by your Spirit we are made whole.
So, in your healing and your hope we stand this day.
Your promise is to all generations:
We believe that all things are possible with you. May your faithfulness give us hope in believing.
Amen.

copyright © 2002-2021 ROOTS for Churches

Close

As we come to the end of our virtual service today don’t forget the virtual coffee morning is in operation on Zoom and the link to that is in the newsletter. 

I hope you all have a good week and that God would bless us all with the strength to keep taking up our cross every day.

And now our closing prayer:

Closing Prayer

Jesus was handed over to be crucified because of our
sins.
He died and rose again to make us right with God.
Through him we are forgiven.
Let us follow the Lord our God, giving our lives as he
gave his for us.
Amen.

copyright © 2002-2021 ROOTS for Churches

 

Community

The community of S17 has drawn together during these unusual times in a very special way. This is reflected in the great work of the S17 COVID-19 Community Support group.

The group aims to support those in the community who may be in need and to provide a support network to the S17 community at this time.

“If there are needy people in our community let’s ensure we help them out with things like bringing shopping to their door.”

The Wardens of All Saints Totley have been producing regular newsletters with helpful links, thoughts and resources. The latest of these is here.

We have also started to add resources for the younger members of our church, to add to this virtual service. They can be found here, and here.

Reminder

If you have any feedback on this service or any other ideas, suggestions or contributions, for future services please do send these to comments@allsaintstotley.church